Charlie was tucked into bed for the night. “Time to read a story,” Isaac said. “We finished the dinosaur cowboy book, what will we read next?” He trailed his fingers along the spines of the books on the shelf.
“Do we have the next dinosaur book?” Charlie asked.
“It doesn’t come out for two more weeks.” Isaac paused and looked more closely at the colorful book on the end of the row. He pulled it off the shelf. “Do you remember this?”
Charlie leaned over the edge of the bed. “What is it?”
Isaac held it up. “It’s your favorite picture book. The one about the stegosaurus in a rocket ship.”
“I love that story! Read that one,” Charlie said.
“Okay.” Isaac sat down and opened the book.
“Wait,” Charlie said. “I want to see the pictures. Can we sit on the couch to read it?”
“You’ll go straight to bed afterwards?” Isaac asked.
“I promise,” Charlie said. He climbed down from his loft bed, pulling his blanket off his bed as he came down. He wrapped it around him. It trailed behind him as he followed Isaac to the living room.
They sat in the center of the couch. “Both of us under the blanket,” Charlie said. He held a corner out to Isaac. Isaac tucked them both in under the blanket. Charlie snuggled in closer “Okay, start now.”
Isaac smiled. “Well, here’s the first page. Stegosaurus loved watching the stars every night.”
“Don’t turn the page,” Charlie said. “I need to look at the picture.” He leaned close to the page and tapped a finger on the stegosaurus. “He looks happy, right?”
“Yes, he looks happy.” Isaac looked down at Charlie. He looked younger somehow. Isaac blinked and looked back at the page. “Do you see his house? Right over there in the corner.”
“Turn the page. I want to see what’s next,” Charlie said.
Isaac turned the page. “One night, he had an idea. He could go visit the stars.”
“Look, there’s his workshop,” Charlie said. He traced it with his finger. “I wish I had a workshop. I want to visit the stars too.”
“That would be amazing, wouldn’t it?” Isaac looked at Charlie. He definitely looked younger. He should probably stop reading now.
Charlie smiled. “Read the next page.” And somehow, Isaac turned the page and started reading.
They read each page and examined all the pictures. Charlie kept looking younger and younger. Every page, Isaac decided to stop reading. Every time he decided to stop, Charlie asked him to continue, and he found himself reading the next page.
They finally reached the last page. Charlie was lisping as he spoke and wearing his footie pajamas with teddy bears on them. Charlie hadn’t fit into those pajamas for years. “Stegosaurus was home again. Home was the best place to be, after all.” Isaac read.
“Dews de wookchop,” Charlie said, pointing to the workshop in the picture.
“That’s where he keeps his tools,” Isaac said. “It takes a lot of tools to build a spaceship.”
“I wanna paychip,” Charlie said. “A big one.”
“If you had a big spaceship, then we could all visit the stars together,” Isaac said. “Maybe someday. For now, it’s time to go to bed.”
Watching Charlie, Isaac closed the book. Between one moment and the next, Charlie was his older self again, wearing his new fuzzy, stripey pajamas. “Already?” Charlie asked.
“It’s time,” Isaac said. “Come on. I’ll carry your blanket and tuck you in.”
“Thanks, Dad,” Charlie said. “You know what? When you read that book, I feel like a little kid again.”
Isaac gathered up the blanket. “It’s nice to feel that way sometimes, but I like you just the way you are.”
“I know,” Charlie said.